Dr. Louis Ignarro: Why I Chose Herbalife
Thursday, February 03, 2011
During my extensive travels to speaking engagement and research institutes I am occasionally asked the question: Why Herbalife? In this blog post I want to explain why I chose to partner with Herbalife and why it was one of the best decisions I could have ever made.
After spending many years in laboratory settings at Tulane and UCLA, uncovering the secrets of Nitric Oxide, I decided to bring my message of cardiovascular health through NO directly to the people. The NO More Heart Disease message was simply too important to keep a secret when it had the ability to improve the wellness of individuals worldwide afflicted with cardiovascular health concerns. After evaluating many different options, I realized that Herbalife offers the unique opportunity to not only formulate products but also to reach millions of people on an international scale. No other company could provide this unique opportunity.
Being awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was the result of an incredible amount of hard work. There were many days where I did not see sunrise or sundown, or went without any sleep for days at a time. Basic research is very exciting but can be very demanding. During my career, I have received many prestigious awards in addition to the Nobel Prize. These include the French version of the Nobel Prize (Roussel-Uclaf Prize), the Basic Research Prize of the American Heart Association, the CIBA Award of the American Heart Association for Hypertension Research, the Canadian Medal of Honor, and election into the National Academy of Sciences, the Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. However, despite all of this recognition and awards, one thing was missing for me. My work was well known to scientists but not to the lay public.
My work on nitric oxide enlightened me on the obvious relation between lifestyle and cardiovascular health. My dream was to successfully apply my extensive research to the development of products that could boost the body’s production of nitric oxide and, perhaps, provide some protection against cardiovascular disease. I believed that, together with such a product, I might be able to communicate with or reach a large part of the population to teach that a healthy lifestyle (healthy diet plus a moderate aerobic exercise program) could prevent serious cardiovascular disease. I estimate that during my nearly ten years association with Herbalife, I have spoken to over 5,000,000 people. Also, I have written a bestselling book on the subject (NO More Heart Disease) which has been translated into many different languages and is available worldwide. In addition to my involvement with Herbalife, I have accepted hundreds of independent speaking invitations worldwide from medical associations, universities, research institutions, non-profit organizations, pharmaceutical companies, and foreign governments. In order to accomplish this monumental task, I have traveled by air an average of 300,000 miles per year for ten years.
At the beginning of my work with Herbalife there was a misunderstanding and I wish to express my sincere and humble apologies for this incident. I had been publishing research articles on the heart health benefits of amino acids and antioxidants for several years before my association with Herbalife. Much of this research was conducted by my colleagues in Italy. In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences article that appeared just after beginning my involvement with Herbalife, my colleagues prepared the manuscript and inadvertently failed to make a routine disclosure of my conflict of interest because of financial interest in the substances tested and reported on. Being as busy as I am, and because I’ve never had to make such a disclosure before, I failed to notice this omission, and so the paper was published without the disclosure. Further, my colleagues in Italy were not aware of the extent of my involvement with Herbalife, and it did not occur to them that we should disclose my conflict of interest. This was truly an inadvertent omission on my part for which I have apologized on many occasions. It is important to note that this type of omission occurred only one time and has not occurred again in any of my subsequent publications in PNAS or any other journal dealing with the same subject. My own institution (UCLA) conducted an investigation, at my request, and found that I did not act improperly, and that the research was conducted entirely in Italy, and that my research funds at UCLA were not used to fund any part of the research published in PNAS. The way it works at UCLA is that the faculty member or investigator does not have direct access to any funds; rather, a request must be made and approved by the institution to spend any part of the research funds. The bottom line is that I made a mistake but did not act improperly.
One of the important reasons for my decision to consult for Herbalife was the opportunity it has given me to speak to millions of people in order to spread my message to the world on adopting a healthy lifestyle thru diet and exercise as a way of preventing cardiovascular disease. This has been a very busy but exceedingly rewarding experience. Much of my time is also spent talking around the globe in events unrelated to Herbalife, where I focus my lectures and discussions on healthy lifestyle without any mention of Herbalife. My dedication is first and foremost to spreading the good news about health and wellness and Herbalife provides the perfect vehicle for reaching international audiences that otherwise may never understand the importance of the “Miracle Molecule” that is nitric oxide.
I have always practiced what I preach regarding healthy lifestyle. For example, my calorie-restricted diet is one that is rich in healthy protein (fish, nuts, soy protein), antioxidants (fresh fruits and vegetables, and antioxidant supplements), omega-3 (fish and fish oil supplements), and fiber (produce, grains and multigrain foods), but low in salt and saturated fats. Aerobic exercise plays a prominent part of my daily routine, in the form of running, cycling, aerobic gym equipment, and body building, even at my age of 70. I ran my first marathon (26.2 miles or 42 kilometers) at the age of 64 and have done 14 marathons. Routinely, I enjoy cycling about 150 miles each week when not traveling. Being a member of a local gym allows me to work out whenever I wish. Why do I exercise to this extent? Because exercise is fun, invigorating, and exceedingly healthy!
Hopefully this post can help to explain why I am so happy to have partnered with Herbalife to bring my message of cardiovascular health to as many people as possible.